Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse
Report of Western Area Manager.
Dr Robin Hanley informed Members that following the recent management re-structure, Hannah Jackson had been appointed as the new Western Area Manager. She had a strong knowledge of Gressenhall and a good grounding in the Western Area.
Hannah Jackson presented the report to Members.
Gressenhall continued to offer a broad programme of events based around the four operational models. This included the Days with a Difference which provided flexibility to explore different themes such as The Wedding Fair and the Summer Story Festival.
The Chairman asked if similar events had been considered on a corporate basis to promote the site for commercial activities.
Ms Jackson responded to say they had styled the wedding offer to also be used for celebratory events such as birthdays and afternoon tea parties.
Councillor Kiddle-Morris asked what the visitor numbers were for the School Holiday activities. Ms Jackson said she would include the figures in the future reports, and said encouraging children into the museum was important as they populated other events at the museum too.
Dr Hanley added that a new sophisticated ticketing system had been installed to enable tracking of visitor profiles. The Spring Fair saw a record number of Norfolk Museum Pass sales with a record breaking total of 46 sold at the event.
Gressenhall had piloted the use of online advance ticket sales through the ‘Art Tickets’ platform at the Summer Story Festival and Village at War events. Although the uptake was minimal, visitors were increasingly looking for easy ways to book events and activities. It was hoped this would be used to improve the booking of the pre-paid events.
The 2015 temporary exhibition of ‘Inspiring Women’ had been created in partnership with the Norfolk Federation of Women’s Institutes using collections from WI archives and the museum. Two private garden parties were hosted at the museum to celebrate the centenary.
The Voices from the Workhouse project included re-decoration of the workhouse which had been completed during the winter months. For the 2015 season, visitors were able to explore the ‘bare bones’ of the building, prior to the installation of new displays during winter 2015. It is hoped that the workhouse spaces would re-open during spring 2016.
During the summer, a number of test interactives and interpretation, including character projections, had been installed within the workhouse spaces.
Engineering volunteers had started to clean and restore some of the machines within the laundry room.
The Museum continued to maintain and grow a strong social media presence which remained a key priority to engage with visitors and local communities.
Gressenhall continued to develop a range of commercial activities as a means of generating income. The site had officially launched its weddings package and had its first wedding booking confirmed for August 2016.
Councillor Richmond asked if the Museum had considered setting up an ‘Instagram’ account. Ms Jackson said that it was something the Museum could look in to. Dr Hanley added that there was a Digital Development Officer at Norfolk County Council which the museum used to develop the social media presence.
The Chairman asked if there had been any analysis of the use of Social Media. Dr Hanley said that statistics were produced and the Museum was constantly looking at ways of learning through best practice.
Councillor Darby asked if Gressenhall promoted the farm, as it appeared it was not mentioned as much as the Museum. Ms Jackson said that the Museum tried to ensure all areas of the site were covered and this was primarily through the Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Friends of Gressenhall continued to support activities across the site. In addition, 120 volunteers continued to be active around the site.
Visitor numbers were circulated and it was highlighted that there was a low attendance in April but this could have been down to poor weather, and also the ‘Re-discover the Workhouse’ offer had not been promoted this year due to the Workhouse renovation project.
Councillor Richmond asked why the Festival on the Farm had not been held this year as it had been very well attended in the past. Members were informed that Breckland were not able to run the event this year, due to changes within the Communities Team.
The Chairman thanked Ms Jackson and Dr Hanley for the report.